Monogamy: How is it Defined?

By Michael Arangua

Updated December 21, 2018

Reviewer Kay Adkins, LPC

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Monogamy is officially defined as "a form of relationship in which an individual has only one partner during their lifetime - alternately, only one partner at any one time." In Western society, this type of relationship is quite common. Sometimes, individuals who are in the monogamous relationship decide to carry on affairs or otherwise alternative relationships without their primary partner's knowledge. This can lead to a variety of problems. In most cases, monogamy is regarded as the standard, while non-monogamous relationships are generally condemned or otherwise looked down upon.

Monogamy Explained

To date, there are a variety of debates regarding monogamy. As divorce rates and reports of infidelity surge, many people have questioned whether or not monogamy is as innate as it's often made out to be. However, not everyone shares the preceding viewpoint. Advocates of monogamy maintain that just because someone finds themselves attracted to one who is not their partner does not mean they have to act on their desire. Moreover, people experience plenty of thoughts and feelings which they do not act on for a variety of reasons.

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Despite what many individuals view as the merits of monogamy, this type of relationship is not for everyone. Some people have opted to engage in polyamorous unions or open relationships. Although not everyone agrees with this lifestyle, individuals should not be shamed if they choose to partake in polyamory. However, problems arise when not everyone in a relationship is on the same page.

Some of the central elements of polyamory are consent and agreement. This means that all parties should be equally aware of the nature of the relationship. One person should not expect monogamy, while the other individual proceeds to do as he or she pleases. This is factually referred to as cheating. Cheating, or a lack of faithfulness to one's partner, causes many problems. If someone is unsatisfied in a relationship, they should simply exit the union as opposed to stringing their partner along.

Benefits of Monogamy

Each person has their own opinions and beliefs regarding monogamy and its benefits. However, scientific research and studies have proven that monogamy does come with certain upsides. Whether or not individuals choose to partake in monogamous relationships is up to them, but the benefits do not simply go away.

First and foremost, Counsel Heal explains that monogamous individuals are likelier to live longer than 10% to 15% longer than their non-monogamous counterparts. Faithful relationships also decrease the probability of passing away from natural disasters, violence, and freak accidents. However, longer life spans are just the tip of the iceberg as it pertains to monogamy.

Non-monogamous people have a higher probability of not only dying sooner, but also of experiencing depression, heart disease, lung disease, Alzheimer's, and diabetes. Finally, men who engage in monogamy are likelier to experience a more "enjoyable" sex life, while monogamous women are more prone to better states of mental health.

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According to The Huffington Post, upsides to monogamy extend beyond longer life spans and better health. For starters, individuals who remain faithful to their partners are likelier to enjoy better higher qualities of sex and cuddling. Contrary to somewhat popular belief, sleeping with multiple partners, or partaking in what's commonly referred to as "hook up culture," does not always breed pleasure and satisfaction. In other words, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Taking time to truly and instinctively get to know your partner on an intimate level harbors long-term benefits as opposed to sleeping with random people.

Another upside of monogamous relationships comes in the form of not having to worry about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). There is a saying which states that when you sleep with someone, you're essentially sleeping with every person that they've ever been with.

While this saying is not necessarily meant to be interpreted literally, the sentiment applies to the probability of catching [Sexually Transmitted Diseases] STDs. The more sexual partners one has, the likelier they have of stumbling upon a disease. The likelihood of STD's increases considerably when one or more sexual partner has already been infected.

Many individuals don't realize that sexually transmitted diseases can set dormant for months or even years before rearing its ugly heads. Someone can have an STD and not be aware; in their lack of awareness, they can pass this disease onto one or more of their sexual partners. A person who maintains a sexual relationship with someone who isn't faithful can easily open themselves up to catching something.

This reason alone should be enough for people to consider the upsides of monogamy. When two loving people remain committed and faithful to one another, there is no stress or worry about contracting any sexually transmitted diseases, provided that both partners are already clean.

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Drawbacks of Monogamy

While many people champion monogamy and view it as the healthiest form of relationship, not all individuals share this disposition. Those who oppose monogamous relationship have their reasons, which they consider to be drawbacks of the traditionally accepted relationship. First and foremost on the list usually comes boredom, as noted by Connect Us Funds. Many people wish to experience excitement, passion, and pleasure when they enter into romantic unions. While certain individuals can keep these feelings alive in monogamous relationships, not everyone can do this.

Certain people prefer to maintain open, polyamorous, or multiple relationships so that they're able to feel fulfilled. This type of lifestyle should not be judged or condemned by those who disagree. As long as all parties are on the same page regarding the nature of the relationship, there may be less relational disputes.

Another notable disadvantage of monogamy presents itself in the form of potential maybe find discrepancies in sexual compatibility. The majority of people in relationships will have sex with each other. Therefore, sexual compatibility and being on the same wavelength matters and makes a difference. In many situations, this factor can be strong enough to break a relationship.

Many individuals fail to realize that just because two people start off as sexually compatible doesn't mean that they'll remain that way. Human beings tend to grow, develop, and evolve. Sometimes people grow together, and other times, they grow apart. An ongoing or repetitive lack of sexual compatibility in various monogamous unions may prompt certain people to seek out relationships of a different nature.

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Last but not least, on the list of drawbacks comes the danger of settling. Society often tells people that they ought to be in monogamous relationships; they're told that entering into such unions will bring happiness, fulfillment, acceptance, etc. As a result of such messaging, many individuals may feel pressured to enter into relationships which they're not necessarily ready for. Rushing into a partnership with the wrong individual can breed resentment over time and later lead to cheating or other issues.

To make a long story short, each person should take time and truly get to know who they are before rushing into any type of relationship. Some people will do well in monogamous relationships. Other individuals will find that they're better suited for different types of unions. Either scenario is acceptable and should be respected.

A Final Word

In many situations, people will ask themselves whether or not monogamy is good or bad, right or wrong. The truthful answer to these questions is that it simply depends. While monogamy seems to work for many individuals, not everyone will feel fulfilled or satisfied with this type of unions. However, it does go without saying that monogamous people in relationships with other monogamous people may be more compatible and, of course, the same principle applies to polyamorous individuals and those who prefer open relationships. Ultimately, as long as both or all parties are consenting adults, abstaining from judgment and condemnation is the best course of action.

So many people fail to realize that relationship are inherently complicated. There are so many factors which determine whether a union succeeds or fails. These factors are constantly changing, as are people. Every one of us goes through individual, unique experiences which change our worldviews and outlooks. Sometimes we grow with the people we're closest to, and other times, we grow apart. Different individuals who cross our paths at various points in life almost always have something to teach us. Ultimately, the ability to learn and grow from all people, things, and experiences is what truly matters.

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Are you going through a trying time in life? Do you find yourself questioning a relationship that you're in? While many people attempt to go about these issues alone, having someone to sit down and consult with makes all the difference in the world. Here at BetterHelp, we pride ourselves on providing guidance and helpful advice to those who reach out to us. We recognize that the challenges and obstacles of life vary from person to person. Nobody deserves to feel as though they have no one to turn to.

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